Many times family members of those with bipolar disorder do not fully understand what their loved one is going through. Research has shown that education can be an invaluable tool in promoting the loved one’s response and support, thereby enhancing the recovery experience for the affected individual.
Hi. This is Karl Shallowhorn with the BP magazine bphope.com vlog. I’m going to be speaking with you about bipolar disorder and family. In particular, how family members can help their loved that has bipolar disorder. First of all, one of the things I know from my experience over the last several years working at the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer Buffalo is that often times parents will come to me, or loved ones will come to me and say, I’ve got a son or a daughter or a brother or a family member that has bipolar disorder, “What can I do?” Often these people are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re concerned, they’re scared about what the future might hold for their loved one. And I can certainly understand that. It can be very difficult to watch someone who is struggling and not know what to do.
So, the first thing I would recommend is just trying to practice empathy which is essentially trying putting yourself in that person’s shoes and try to identify with what they’re going through. Having bipolar disorder is really, really difficult and by trying to understand maybe what it’s like having periods of depression or even mania can be really helpful. I think that it’s important to remember that even though a person has bipolar disorder, they didn’t ask for it, and if anything, they may not understand it themselves.
Another thing you can do is educate yourself. For instance, go to the NAMI website – NAMI.ORG. A lot of valuable information on mental health, and in particular also bipolar disorder and substance use. So go to the NAMI website, there’s a lot of good information there. In addition, NAMI has chapters all over the country (U.S) where there are support groups, educational groups; things like In Our Own Voice and Family to Family, which is a 12-week program on understanding mental illness. These are all great resources which you can access.
In addition, there’s Mental Health America. Mental Health America is the parent organization of all the Mental Health Associations across the United States. Mental Health America and its affiliates provide information; they provide those resources where people can know where to get help and how to get help. Some of them do provide direct care, whereas others, like the one I work for work in other areas, but as importantly information and referral about mental illness.
And finally, what I would say is to never give up. In some cases, I understand that relationships can be strained and often times even broken when it comes to bipolar disorder. However, we know, through research, when family members are more supportive of their loved one that’s dealing with a mental health disorder recovery is much more possible or it’s even able to be enhanced or accelerated, so to speak. So, one thing you want to do is never give up on your loved one and remember that hope is always there. There are a lot of valuable places; or another place to remember to go to is, of course, the BP website, BP magazine. A lot of good information, first-person accounts of people who are successful in their recovery and have been there, been in that person’s shoes.
Remember, there are lots of things you can do as a family member to help your loved one. And as I always say, “Recovery is possible.”
So, for the BP magazine bphope.com vlog. I’m Karl Shallowhorn. Be well!
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community